The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism
December 21, 2016–April 3, 2017
Stanford, CA—The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is pleased to open The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism, an extraordinary exhibition set to chronicle the mesmerizing and unsettling nature of the Surrealist movement from historic master artists like René Magritte and Marcel Duchamp to today’s artistic superstars, including Cindy Sherman, Jimmie Durham, and David Lynch. Having originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the show’s cross-historical approach, for which the Cantor is renowned, enables viewers to witness Surrealism’s lasting impact on contemporary artistic practices.
“I’m thrilled to bring this exhibition to Stanford and to the Bay Area,” said Alison Gass, Chief Curator and Associate Director for Exhibitions and Collections at the Cantor. “In our presentation, the incredibly rich trove of works from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago combines with additions from both the Cantor’s permanent collection and rare materials form Stanford’s Special Collections libraries to offer a fresh investigation of Surrealism.”
The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism charts the travel of surrealist ideas and imagery as the movement evolved and expanded over the course of the 20th century. Surrealist works like Magritte’s Les merveilles de la nature (1953) and Paul Delvaux’s Penelope (1945) challenge traditional categories of experience, especially the distinction between reality and dream. Enrico Baj’s Le General Mechant et Decore (1961), shadow boxes by Joseph Cornell, and Willie Cole’s Heal and Rest (1992) reveal a surrealist interest in unconventional art-making techniques, including collage, assemblage, and photomontage. Works by Jean Arp and Wolfgang Paalen’s Taches Solaire (1938) demonstrate the Surrealists’ ingenious use of automatic processes.
The Cantor’s Halperin Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Jodi Roberts, commented, “This exhibition examines Surrealism’s international dissemination and stages intergenerational encounters between historical Surrealism and contemporary artists, highlighting the movement’s most generative concepts and techniques. Together, the works in A Conjured Life reveal how surrealist ideas evolved over time and remain a rich current within artistic practice.”
The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism is organized by the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. This presentation builds upon the exhibition Surrealism: The Conjured Life as organized by Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, drawing from its extensive Surrealism holdings. In Chicago the exhibition was organized by Curator Lynne Warren with generous support provided by The Pritzker Traubert Collection Exhibition Fund, Helen and Sam Zell, Carol and Douglas Cohen, Carolyn S. Bucksbaum, Anonymous, Betsy and Andrew Rosenfield, Richard and Ellen Sandor Family, and Mary E. Ittelson.
We gratefully acknowledge support of this presentation from The Loughlin Family Exhibition Fund, The Clumeck Endowment Fund, The Elizabeth Swindells Hulsey Exhibitions Fund, the Contemporary Collectors Circle, and museum members.
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Founded when the university opened in 1891, the museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor. The Cantor’s collection spans 5,000 years and includes more than 38,000 works of art. Ranging from classical antiquities to contemporary works, the Cantor’s holdings include the largest collection of sculptures by renowned master Auguste Rodin in an American museum. With 24 galleries and more than 15 special exhibitions each year, the Cantor is one of the most visited university art museums in the country and is an established resource for teaching and research on campus. Free admission, tours, lectures, and family activities help the museum attract visitors from Stanford’s academic community, the San Francisco Bay Area, and from around the world.